If you’re the first-time founder of an early stage startup, working with experienced and proven entrepreneurs can help focus your efforts and expedite your success. This is the driving purpose behind Ann Arbor SPARK’s Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR) program.
What is Entrepreneur-in-Residence
EIR connects C-level executives who have a proven record of success in early stage companies with emerging technology startups. Not only does this program provide essential mentorship and advice to startups, but it retains experienced entrepreneurial leaders in the region who want to reinvest in their community.
Ann Arbor boasts a healthy regional ecosystem comprised of successful business leaders and talented idea generators. EIR plays a pivotal role in helping this ecosystem thrive. Industry leaders are able to give back by aiding developing companies as they tackle the challenges of growth and development. Thus, EIR helps to meet the needs of both essential parties.
In 2020, EIR helped 34 startup companies accelerate their growth, whether it be overcoming specific challenges or developing meaningful deliverables.
Benefits of Having a Mentor
The EIR program can help entrepreneurs build a relationship with potential mentors who have experience in the same position. Mentors are available to answer questions, give advice, offer different perspectives, help expand your network, and give you the confidence to make better decisions for your company.
It’s been proven time and time again that an effective mentor has a direct impact on the success and growth of any small business. Finding an entrepreneurship mentor in a new community can be tricky, which is why SPARK wants to help.
Benefits of Being a Mentor
If you’re a C-level executive with entrepreneurial experience, this program was created with you in mind. Share your experience by building a mentoring relationship with local, innovative startups, and provide expert advice to help them become successful and build capital.
By helping small startups with their business ventures, you’re making an important investment in your community.
One EIR success story is with Shopwindow, a SPARK East Innovation Center client. Shopwindow provides its B2B and B2C customers a toolbox of digital marketing solutions, all in a convenient single platform. When it came time to go-to-market, the startup needed C-Suite support to help develop its sales and marketing strategies.
After using the EIR program to strengthen Shopwindow’s sales and marketing strategy, the company saw a dramatic 300 percent increase in year-over-year sales.
With funds earmarked by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and budget oversight provided by the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti SmartZone Local Development Finance Authority (LDFA), Ann Arbor SPARK’s entrepreneurial programs, services, tools, and resources support the growth of a vibrant startup ecosystem.